One of the more controversial items to come out of last year’s National Education Association Representative Assembly was a measure about Teach for America, the organization that recruits new teachers for low-income area schools, primarily for a two-year stint.
New Business Item 93 was approved by NEA delegates after some tinkering with the language. It ultimately read:
“NEA will publicly oppose Teach for America (TFA) contracts when they are used in districts where there is no teacher shortage or when districts use TFA agreements to reduce teacher costs, silence union voices, or as a vehicle to bust unions.”
To their credit, NEA staffers asked for information not only from its 500 largest locals, but from TFA itself. The first and most prominent conclusion they came to was:
“No evidence suggests that the TFA contracts are being used to reduce teacher costs, silence union voices, or as a vehicle to bust unions.”
NEA found that the vast majority of its own local leaders did not have issues with TFA, and that two “actually expressed concern about the potential impact of the item on their ability to recruit TFA teachers into their locals.”
The union noted that TFA teachers face the same reductions in force as other teachers. NEA could find only five locals that had a TFA contract but no teacher shortage. Only two of those locals asked NEA to send a letter to school district administrators protesting the practice.
This is bad news for Matt Damon and his mom, but a happy outcome for almost everyone else. It should get more attention.